Crazy month, take 2

I wrote about our crazy month at the end of June, but I’m beginning to think that I really didn’t know what crazy was then.

Sold sign for a house
This (finally) has led to...
Cardboard boxes stacked for a move
scenes like this, and...
Room stacked with furniture and boxes for a move
scenes like this. We started madly packing the night we knew that we had sold our house and haven't stopped. (A four-week closing will do that to you.)

It’s been a long time since we found ourselves in this scenario and it’s something that we plan to never do again if we can possibly avoid it! Moving is exhausting, but the kind of move we are doing I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Our new house isn’t ready until some time in November, but we need to move in less than three weeks – if you do the math, you’ll see that we were looking at being homeless for a while. So, “moving house”, rapidly turned into (a) finding somewhere to live, (b) identifying what things need to go into storage until we move to the new house, and (c) identifying the things that we’ll need at our temporary home.

At one point last week as I dementedly ran through online listings for apartments, houses, cottages, and you-name-it, I was certain that we might need to explore hundreds of rental properties before we might find something that we could live in. Short term rentals are not so easy to find. Late one evening I bookmarked a motel in a nearby community where I was certain we could live for the better part of three months. Right. So glad I jettisoned that belief pretty quickly.

In reality, several intense and tiring evenings spent scouring listings turned into appointments for three properties:

1. a newish townhome in the farthest suburban reaches of the huge, sprawling city of Ottawa (getting us closer to our new community, but still a commute away)

2. a not-so-new townhome right in our new community that would have been ideal geographically but just didn’t feel quite right, and

3. a tiny and somewhat scruffy but idyllically situated three bedroom cottage on a lake about 20 minutes from our new community.

We were somewhat drawn to option #1 as we liked the landlord, saw the appeal of a roomy, clean and nicely appointed house (huge sunken tub in the master bathroom!), and were pleasantly surprised by the nearby bike paths. But option #3 won out handily, as we realized that some extended quiet time as a family on a beautiful lake where the focus could be on canoe rides, star-gazing and bonfires. Don’t worry, we know that it won’t be one big extended holiday – school starts two weeks after we move in, after all – but it seemed like the best chance at getting closest to things that we enjoy doing together as a family and stripping away some extraneous details. It also helped that the cottage has a companion garage (larger than the cottage!) where we can store some of our belongings, and a the rental came with a significantly lower price tag than our other options.

In the midst of all of this, our new house and our builder have been clamouring for our attention. We’re at the stage where a lot of decisions need to be taken. Plumbing decisions, placement of electrical wiring, selecting interior doors and trim, choosing a kitchen (ack!), floors, etc. On and on.

These are the details that I did NOT want to get bogged down in. There is something instrinsically selfish about building your own home from scratch, and we determined early on that we would not obsess over the details. We are not people who planned to one day build our dream home; we found ourselves needing to build a house after finding the land in the community that we chose to inhabit. We wanted to build as green a house as reasonably possible, but we also didn’t want the process to eat up our lives. Well, frankly, it is gobbling up our time and attention, but I realize just how much worse it could be if we agonized over every little detail. We’ve really tried to stick to some basic principles and call things “done” quickly. I think our builder would agree that we’ve been very straightforward (at least I hope so).

Carving out quality time for our children and ourselves in the midst of this process has been challenging, and we’ve all felt in different ways the complete shift from our routines and preferred activities. We know it’s a short term transition for something that we all want for the longer term, but we humans are very focused on the present and it can be difficult to look beyond it.

For me the hardest part has been giving up our regular and physically demanding cycling outings as a family; I felt so amazing at the end of last summer, when we cycled here, there and everywhere (or so it felt). We still cycle, but it comes in fits and starts, and the bigger outings are almost impossible to fit in. We’ve decided that we really need a big ride to a favourite place this weekend and that we will fit it in somehow.

Actually, the hardest part has been the brain that has been split into a zillion different pieces to deal with more competing priorities than I can even begin to enumerate here. I’m not complaining though, really. Without further ado, here’s a bit more from the last four weeks.

New two wheeled bike with training wheels
A new two-wheeled bike with training wheels was acquired for youngest son. He's finally showing an interest in getting to grips with his own two wheels. (Finding the time for him to do this has been another matter, still unresolved.)
Chopper bicycle for a big kid
About a week before we sold the house, oldest son got his hands on a second hand "chopper" bicycle and lovingly shined up its chrome in an effort to give it a new lease of life. We're all for new passions for old things (just as long as they are not IN the house!).
Children listing to ipod together
Frequent trips to our new community have meant a lot more time in - eek! - the car. Our old nemesis, you say? Audio books have been an enjoyable way to pass the time (listening to tunes on older son's ipod also being popular). Our hands-down favourite this summer has been Russell Hoban's rolicking novel "The Mouse and His Child" read by William Dufris. Oh my goodness, what a story, and what a storyteller. If you need a family book, go read it or - better still in this case - listen to it!
Front door of new bungalow
Discovering that our new house had doors and windows installed was a great thrill.
Small child with a frog
Catching frogs from one of the streams on our land was an even bigger thrill for this boy.
Sand pile in front of new bungalow
The sand pile has been another coveted spot for the younger son this summer.
Child's legs covered with mud
This would be what drove me to ask our plumber for a mixer tap on the OUTSIDE of our new house. Actually, I asked for a hot water tap, and he diplomatically suggested that a mixer tap would mean that I wouldn't be scalding the children when they need to be hosed down. Quite right too!
Flooring samples
But really I should be ending this post and getting back to things like choosing flooring samples, recycling batteries and old paint cans, notifying our utility providers that we're moving, filling out that change of address form, figuring out what I need to do to defrost my freezer and...oh heck, maybe I'll just go on that bike ride instead.

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